To Engage or Not To Engage?

Like with any relationship, employee engagement is a two-way street. Cooperation of both parties: company and employee. We often find ourselves only looking at engagement from one way, the company’s responsibility. We share all the tools, tips, and tricks companies can employ to create engaged employees. And when companies exhaust every effort to no avail, it looks a lot like standing in the middle of the dance floor, arms wide open, inviting anyone to dance, and your employees staring blankly at you from the punch bowl. #SadFace

So what does the other side of that coin look like?

I often speak directly to millennial professionals about leadership and it’s my goal to empower them to take control of their lives and that includes assessing the experience they’re creating at work. When I talk about employee engagement from the employee side I always refer to the Academy of Management’s Review titled Crafting a Job: Revisioning Employees as Active Crafters of Their Work.

In this review, authors Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane E. Dutton go over their research around job crafting. Job crafting is the process where “employees craft their jobs by changing cognitive, task, and/or relational boundaries to share interactions and relationships with others at work.”

They share comparisons from different industries and show how individuals with the same title, position, and scope of duties can (and often do) craft different job experiences. They look at how employees change the number of activities while doing a certain job, how they choose to see or think about the job they’re doing, and how they decide to interact with others while they work. To me, this speaks to the level of engagement each employee chooses to participate.

One of the studies that stood out to me was of hospital cleaners. Researchers looked at a group of cleaning staff at one hospital and divided them into two groups. The first group did their job with the least amount of tasks and interaction with other employees. While the second group actively took on additional activities and incorporated interaction with other staff, visitors, and patients. 

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